Menu Plan Monday Plus Cheater Lasagna Recipe

New Year, back on the meal planning wagon! Last week I participated in a Clean Eating group hosted by my favorite Team Beachbody coach, Jenny, (follow her page and get in on her next one, it is free and I got some delicious, real food tips for feeding my whole family!) This week, I am back to my faithful BFF, eMeals. I have recently switched meal plans (which is super easy and can be done once a month) from the Clean Eating plan to the Budget Friendly Family Plan.


Easy Budget Meals Your Family Will Love

I really liked the Clean Eating plan, but it was expensive, and not as family friendly as I would desire. I was leery of trying the Budget Friendly plan, as I feared that it would be a lot of mixes and convenience foods. But, I was pleasantly surprised! In the words of the eMeals website: “We maximize your savings without cutting corners on flavor or nutrition. No leftovers here! Our plan serves up a family-friendly mix of weeknight favorites, pantry meals, hearty soups and stews, and meatless dinners.”. I was able to pick up everything for seven dinners and sides, plus some breakfast lunch and snack staples for our family of 7 for $160.  And, since meals are planned. . .we won’t need takeout!

The food this week is super real too! And, I learned from Coach Jenny that weekend prep is the key to success! So, I boiled my chicken thighs for the “Cheater Chicken and Dumplings” along with chicken breasts for some chicken salad for my lunches and for the “Bow Tie Tomato Cream Sauce with Chicken”. I also cooked up the from scratch Spanish Rice for the “Baked Beef and Rice Tacos” which also takes advantage of leftovers from the “Slow Cooked Roast Beef”. I feel like we are set up for a week of success!

So, here is what is on the menu!

  • Sunday (yesterday): Creamy  Ham Peas and Ranch Pasta (super tasty!)
  • Monday: Cheater Chicken and Dumplings
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooked Roast Beef, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans
  • Wednesday: Bow-Tie Tomato Cream Sauce with Chicken, steamed broccoli
  • Thursday: Skillet Balsamic Chicken, homemade rice pilaf and peas and corn.
  • Friday: Baked Beef and Rice Tacos. with sauteed Zucchini, corn and black beans.
  • Saturday: Winter Red beans and Sausage soup and corn bread.

I love that i can leave instructions with the teen, or with my husband and they can have dinner on the table in no time if I have to work late.

So far, so good. I’ll keep you all posted! I am always glad to have healthy food, that fits my budget. With this plan, someone has done the work to make sure I use up the whole package of whatever I bought, or can creatively use leftovers.

Want to try a recipe that you are likely to find on the Budget Friendly Family Plan? Try this Cheater Lasagna!

cheaterslasagna-emeals cheaters-lasagna-recipe-card1-emeals

Have you tried eMeals? How do you meal plan? Has it saved you time? Money? Share your Meal Planning Tips in the comments!

Everything I Learned About Friendship, I Learned From Winnie the Pooh

Happy Winnie the Pooh Day! That silly old bear has been a big part of my life, from my childhood listening to the stories about Christopher Robin, his friend Winnie the Pooh and all of the other characters in the Hundred Acre Wood. When I became a mother, I enjoyed sharing these stories, and the Disney movies that went along with them with my children.

What I love the most about Winnie the Pooh is the true stories of friendship that stem from his many adventures.

Here are my top lessons of friendship that I learned from Winnie the Pooh:

Rabbit

1. Friends accept you, even with your faults.  Pooh is a bear of very little brain, and as such, is a terrible speller. And yet, not even that smart aleck Rabbit feels the need to point out his orthographical shortcomings. And so, my friends accept the fact that I type faster than I think (or is the other way around?), and put up with all of my weird food rules (such as two different types of chocolate should never be mixed, and chicken should never be served in a tomato sauce).

eyore

2. Friends know when you are down, and try to lift your spirits. Poor Eeyore. He seems to always be down. And yet, his friends never do give up on him or stop trying to cheer him. Even when a friend does not know the exact right thing to say, they fact that she tries at all makes her a friend worth keeping!

3. Friends will help you out of a jam, even if the trouble you got yourself into was your very own fault. No one *made* Winnie the Pooh eat too much honey . . . . But everyone pitched in to get him out of a jam!

Kanga

4. Sometimes friends smother you, but they mean well.  Kanga can’t help that she is an overprotective mother, and if your son got into as many near misses as little Roo does, you would be overprotective too. But sometimes your friend’s mothering starts to affect you. Relax, she means well. . .

5. A good friend will help you have fun. Tigger is an exuberant friend, but he makes sure EVERYONE has fun. I only need one “TIgger” friend, but I’m glad to have her!

6. Most importantly, a friend helps you on your darkest days. I’ve witnessed friends helping each other in the most unpleasant circumstances. Friends are friends through thick and thin.

 

Chime in! Who is your favorite character from the Hundred Acre Wood? What friendship lesson have you learned from Winnie the Pooh?

 

all images and video are from Disney.com.

Read With Us Wednesday: Obituary Society

Read with UsWednesday So, Essie and I both spaced out yesterday’s post! Oops! I blame recovering from Christmas break.

It was fun to wrap up The Obituary Society, and this gem of a book did not disappoint. I am always a fan of quirky family dynamics.

What I most enjoyed though, was the mood evoked by this book. The one thing I would add to our Mid-Century Modern Rambler would be a front porch for sitting.

After bringing out the tea, they sat on the wooden steps, Juniper leaning into Max’s right arm, Lila resting her head on his left shoulder.  Lila sighed as she sipped her hot tea, thinking how little she cared about what other girls her age were doing, and imagining many years of front porches and steaming tea and club meetings with miniature cakes.  And if a hint of Old Spice mingled with cinnamon wafted past her nose, she pretended not to notice.
And now that you have finished reading with us. . .head over to the authors Pinterest board to check out some of her inspiration (and find the recipe for Maid of Honor Cupcakes! ( I think I have a new assignment for the resident baker of the house!)
Did you miss out on this book? Want to read through the next book with us? Starting next Wednesday we will be discussing  Moms’ Night Out. I loved the movie so much that I had to own it on Blu Ray–and I watch it about once a week, still laughing and crying. I look forward to laughing and crying through the book with you guys.
This book should be available at your local library, though I picked up mine at Amazon (I’m the queen of the late fee–cheaper to buy up front!) We will be discussing Chapters 1-4 on Wednesday!

Meal Planning for Sanity, Health, and Savings


Meal Planning Made Simple

I am a huge advocate for meal planning. I am not always the most consistent meal planner, but when I do plan ahead, we eat better and spend less.

For several years now I have been a happy subscriber to eMeals. Some weeks I follow the meal plans to the letter. Other weeks I look to the plan for inspiration or to get out of a rut. I am currently subscribed to the eMeals Clean Eating Meal Plans, and while I have been happy with the meals, they have not been as much of a hit with the younger members of the family.

It is easy enough to switch plans, and I will likely switch back to either the Classic meal plan or I may try out the brand new Budget Friendly plan!

Some of the benefits of meal planning are:

  • Meal Planning saves Money: Not only does planning meals in advance give the opportunity to shop sales. meal planning takes the guesswork out of “What’s for dinner?” and avoids last minute (and expensive) take-out.
  • Meal planning encourages variety: If I am left to my own devices, I will make the same four meals week after week after week. This will be a great thing for my child who ONLY likes chili, however, everyone else begins to grumble about dinner.
  • Meal planning encourages teamwork: If I plan meals in advance, I can assign cooking tasks to family members much more easily. Rather than just ask my husband or a teen to prepare dinner, I can ask them to cook and give them the step by step instructions and guarantee that all of the needed ingredients are on hand!

I like taking the weekly plans from eMeals and then weave in our family favorites. There is usually at least one meal planned a week that just does not suit our family palate, and it is easy for me to sub in  a family favorite. If you take advantage of the eMeals iOS app there is even a new functionality that allows you to switch meals between menus.

Chime in! Do you meal plan? What is your favorite tool to make it easier? What meal is your go-to  for meal planning?

Healthy Meal Plans to Match your Active Lifestyle

New Year, New Reading Goals!

I am horrible at resolutions. They are just not my thing.

However, I love goals. When I rejoined the working world I learned to refine my goal setting with making  S.M.A.R.T. goals. This acronym stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

While I should be setting some goals in the realm of health and fitness; I’m starting the year with some more attainable goals: reading goals.

I like a good challenge, and Goodreads emailed me to set my reading goals this year, inviting me to take part in the 2015 reading challenge. I would love to think that I would read 200 books in a year, like some of my friends,.–but unless that includes reading Llama Llama Red Pajama out loud 200 times this year, I’m afraid that goal would not be attainable.

Something I love even more than SMART goals is a well-crafted checklist. So when I came across this Facebook Reading Challenge, with a handy-dandy checklist, I was able to truly begin setting my reading goals for the year.

2015 Reading Challenge

I started with an easy book– “A book you can finish in a day”. I had just picked up The Color of Ordinary Timelast week, and took advantage of a quiet Sunday afternoon to devour it. It was an enjoyable read. I am currently working on “A book with more than 500 pages” by reading/listening to The Signature of All Things: A Novel. As a busy mom, I totally say that audio books count! (especially for the longer books!)

If you are the proud owner of a library card, may I introduce you to one of my favorite apps? I use Overdrive to check out eBooks and audiobooks from my local public library. You can check out books for up to 21 days and then they are automatically “returned”–so no late fees!

Some of the other books I am planning to devour read this year are:

That is a pretty good start for now! I have plenty on my to-read list! Join me over at Goodreads and we can keep up with our reading goals!

 

Chime in! What are your reading goals for 2015. What books do you look forward to reading?

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